US 1917 as a base for custom rifle; and custom builder recommendation request


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 23, 2009, 10:30 AM
Is there any special or particular problems/issues in using the 1917 receiver, when it comes to mating the barrel or whathaveyou, as compared to the "standards" (98 Mauser, Rem 700, Winchester 70, etc.)?

Is it generally a good/fine base action to use? I'm wanting to have someone build a custom 6.5mm-'06 for me, and I have this old sporterized 1917 lying around with the original .30-06 barrel, and was wondering if this would be a good choice as a starting point, to send to my 'smith of choice? Obviously, my goal is extreme accuracy here, so want to choose the best action for that, but if I can save a little money by using an existing action on a rifle I don't shoot much, and it won't hamper the gunsmith, then so much the better. My understanding is that these are super strong, and therefore a pretty good choice. But any issues as far as good trigger, drilling for scope bases, etc.? Are drop-in triggers even out there?

Also, who do you recommend as a custom builder for a heavy benchrest / longrange rifle like this? Thanks.

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June 23, 2009, 10:54 AM
The 1917 action has many things going against it to make a fine target rifle out of one.

* Cock-on-closing.

* Huge, massive, and no stronger then a Springfield, and certainly not stronger then a 98 Mauser. But all that mass doesn't add strength because:

* The funnel-breach design does not support the bolt or cartridge head as well as more modern designs like the 700 or Savage. Or even the 98 Mauser.

* Eddystones were noted for inconsistent heat treatment that may result in a cracked front receiver ring.

* Rear sight ears must be ground off to put a scope on one. Many sporterized ones already scoped were ground off years ago on a home shop bench grinder, and are not true. Hole spacing may not even be standard or perfectly aligned. That makes finding a scope base that really fits right difficult at best.

* Pot-belly trigger guard needs converting to a straight guard for best appearance.

* Dog-Leg bolt handle is unsightly and needs to be replaced.

* Military trigger would have to be replaced.

* Nobody is doing much sporterized these days, and 1917 aftermarket stocks are not as easy to find in target, bench-rest, or even sporter styles as they were at one time.

When it's all said and done, if you have to pay a gunsmith to do all the necessary metalwork mods, you will have about twice the price of a Savage or 700 action in it.

And you will have a big heavy rifle with slower lock-time, that may very well not shoot as well as a modern action.

I think you would be money ahead to sell the sporterized 30-06 to someone who needs a deer rifle and put the money in a better place!


June 23, 2009, 11:31 AM
I will go with R, Weatherby, he had no reservations about chambering a M1917 with his chamberings. No stronger than a Springfield or Mauser? I have an A4 barrel chambered for the 308 Norma Mag complete with 'air brake', if the barrel fit the M1917 it would already be installed, the M 1917 Winchester and Remington and some Eddystones are the strongest military receivers made.

The advantage: the difference between the P14 and M1917 bottom opening is .100 in the front, if a timney trigger is used the trigger return spring well can be removed and the box moved back.I enjoy taking the old military types to the range, complete with red bands with white stripes (DP), one in 308 Norma Mag another in 30/06, the next one will be an Ackley Improved, except for the paint job and hole through the wood in front of the receiver they look like P14s.

F. Guffey

June 23, 2009, 12:12 PM
Mating the barrel to anything available, no. The receiver ring diameter is larger than the Mauser and Springfield, the barrel shank on the M 1917 is the largest in diameter of all and the threads are square cut like the smaller diameter Springfield (outside diameter of the Springfield is the same diameter as the small ring Mauser, and the Springfield barrel shank is larger than the shank on the small ring Mauser, to me this makes the receiver ring thinner than the thickness of the small ring Mauser and much thinner than the thickness of the large ring Mauser, back to 'STRONGER' the receiver ring and barrel shank on the M1917 is the largest, thickness and strongest.

Your rifle is sporterized, to what degree, the 6.5/06 will not require a lot of work on the bottom, the trigger guard is not a problem, it requires a technique and fixture.

F. Guffey

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 23, 2009, 12:33 PM
When it's all said and done, if you have to pay a gunsmith to do all the necessary metalwork mods, you will have about twice the price of a Savage or 700 action in it.

OK, rc, that answers my question, thanks! I will keep or sell the sporterized 1917 (ears already ground off).

So what's the best choice - Rem 700, Savage 110, Rem (Mauser) 798, what?, and do you have any recommendations for a good custom builder? I suppose the builder I choose will have his own receiver and barrel maker recommendations.....

Man, it's *really* too bad that Savage doesn't offer it's incredible single shot actions in a long action. :( :(

Thanks again everyone; interesting mix of opinions.

June 23, 2009, 12:51 PM
No, I can't recommend a builder.
I imagine a custom builder will have pretty strong feelings on which is best.
Best will be whichever he specializes in.

IMO: A 98 Mauser is not in the same league with either the 700 or 110 when it comes to fast lock-time.
And lock-time plays a critical role in benchrest or long range shooting.

It is also more difficult to bed in the stock really well.

I'd say pick whichever best suits your sense of taste and go for it.

Personally, even though I know how good the Savage action is, I just can't get past the looks of the barrel nut and rear end of the action.

To me, the 700 is more traditional & much better looking.


Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 23, 2009, 01:22 PM
I know what you mean - the Savage looks like an SKS/ bolt gun hybrid! :eek: Thanks again!

June 23, 2009, 01:27 PM
Rob Bonacci at can handle this project.

June 23, 2009, 04:23 PM
If you start working down the list contained within this link:

you may find someone with a reasonable wait time. Mickey Coleman is a careful worker but you'll have to provide him an action to use, the others are, I believe, able to provide the action.

If you follow the list on the left to "Actions" you'll get an idea of the sorts of custom actions available although I couldn't say how diligently Wilbur has worked to keep everything up to date in these pages.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 23, 2009, 06:40 PM
Nice; thanks; I'll look into it. I don't think I need a Surgeon action or anything super expensive like that. Probably just a Rem 700 or similar and a GOOD barrel, good chamber & leade, with good mating, action trueing, good stock & bedding, good trigger, etc. Excellent advice about the slow lock time of the 98, rc.

I'm looking to have a crazy-long 30-32" bbl, an inch thick at the muzzle, with a 1 in 7.5" twist, in 6.5mm-'06; similar to the Savage F Class PTR, but in a long action.

Thanks for the recommendations; I'll look into Mickey Coleman and Rob Bonnaci. Is Rob in Wyoming?

June 24, 2009, 06:54 AM
Rob's in Denver Colorado. Let me know if you need to see examples of his work.

June 24, 2009, 12:54 PM
Money pit. Don't do it.

You can buy a brand new Marlin XL7 for $300 that is easier to rebarrel, already is D&Ted for scope mounts, has a good trigger out of the box and would only need a different barrel to be a much better 6.5-06 than you could ever make out of your 1917.

Sell the 1917 to someone who wants a really cheap 30-06 and put the money towards the new barrel.

June 24, 2009, 05:23 PM
Hellsbells Guffey, where'd you find that one? Bubba at his most inventive.:D:D
As for an M17 as a bench rifle, wouldn't bother though it is one of my favourite action, for a big game hunting rifle. The cock on closeing makes a lot of sense for a fast follow up & reliable extraction under all conditions, exactly what it was designed for 90 plus years ago. It my believe that the cracking of Eddystone receivers has more to do with trying to loosen the over tight barrels that Eddystones seem to come with than some intrinsic metallurgy problem. A relief cut in front of the receiver seems to release the "tight" & ease the problem. I've got a very similar P14 receiver that I'm to try this on soon so we'll see.;) Most other comments from previous posters seem to be pretty valid.

June 26, 2009, 01:07 PM
Schuinz, I am the proud owner, during the auction it got too much attention on a forum, before the price was driven up I ask them to hold off because I had an interest, for the most part they did, I won! I installed rings and a scope and with 50 rounds of 10 different loads I went to the range, the biggest group was less than 3/4 inch, the laminated stock around the barrel doubles as the recoil lug, the mag box is formed with glass bedding, the trigger was/is a Timeny. I mounted a 50MM scope, it is ugly, it shoots, it takes time to cool, the barrel has a tough time going with harmonics and it belongs to me, I have applied the LEAVER POLICY, I am going to leaver the way I founder. The hook-up is short meaning the firing pin does not travel far.

F. Guffey

June 26, 2009, 02:46 PM
Are there any special problems? No.

I find the history fascinating. Obviously Mauser pretty well "got the bugs out" by 1898 and stuck with that design for the rest of the bolt actions service rifle life. Britain tried to copy the Mauser (as did US with Springfield) and came up with the 1914 (.303 Brit) and 1917 (.30/'06 for US)... As said the Eddystones made at Eddystone Arsenel owned by Remington reportedly did not take to rebarrelling as nicely as Remmies and Winchesters... Mr. Weatherby developed his "magnums" in this action reportedly. Mr. Ackely did not find it a lot stronger than others, but bigger and heavier... great for a boomer in, say, .458 WCF. Plenty for the average "deer rife." .22/250? Little much. Actually a LOT much.

Point, since 1917 the major arms makers have been refining their designs around the sportsman and "looks" and not the major military buyers. Custom triggers. Stocks. Sure, you can get them for 17 but special order... For the beginning target shooter the Rem 700 seems to be about the most popular. Don't forget the Remington Custom Shop. Don't know if they do 6.5/'06. The reference to should be most helpful. Next you need to choose a brand of barrel. GOOD LUCK. Enjoy.

July 3, 2009, 07:15 AM
Guffey, I guess its a case of beautiful is as beautiful does but I can't bring myself like it in any way, that said, I'm not a fan of bench rest style rifles either yet there is no doubting they also perform their task beautifully.
You did well to beat off those other bidders.;):D

July 7, 2009, 03:27 PM
A whole bunch of what is being passed around here as fact is mostly folk lore. Some true, some not, most of it really does not matter. Other than low number eddystones that where brittle there is no good reason not to build a 1917 custom.
FOR THE RECORD The Remington Model 30 was just a 1917 enfield is civvies.
They are very strong actions, Roy Weatherby and thousand of others built maguns out of them. To be frank the main reason was that it was the cheapest way to get an action long enough for the full size H&H based cartridges. All of the perceived short comings of the rifle can be address in the building process.
Some thing are real issues some are not, cock on closing is one. The reason that the 1917 cocks on closing is that British Army wanted the full power of the bolt opening to be directed to the task of removing the spent case. Stuck cases were a real fear on the battle field. American and Germans (after 1898) preferred cock on opening. Ether-way it does not effect how well the rifle shoots once the cartridges is chambered.
If your gun has already been customized, then by all mean recycle it into something you really would like. A 256 Newton or 265/06 would be a great rifle.
If the rifle was a complete number matching WWI veteran then I would say save it. But if not then do the honor of build a classy custom rifle.

If you just want a Cheap good shooter... go buy a Savage.

July 7, 2009, 04:25 PM
A-Square made there name on M1917 conversions back in the day.

I keep daydreaming about sending mine to some to have it converted to something african...

jim in Anchorage
August 4, 2009, 07:50 AM
I have a 1917 made by Winchester I had rechambered to .35-300 mag, and it is the slickest bolt I own.That 3.5% nickel steel receiver is smooth as glass. I don't think it would be the choice for a 6.5 mm-yes the lock time is slow, and the trigger is typical military, but it makes a great large caliber gun. Hang on to it if you ever need a .375:D

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